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The Study of American Literature in China: American Content and Chinese Perspective. 1, A Brief Introduction to the Translation of American Literature in China 2, A General Introduction to the Study of American Literature in China (with a focus on the New Period Time: since 1979)

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1, A Brief Introduction to the Translation of American Literature in China
  • 2, A General Introduction to the Study of American Literature in China (with a focus on the New Period Time: since 1979)
  • 3,The Trend of Reading (American ) Literature: Personal Perspective
1 a brief introduction to the translation of american literature in china
1, A Brief Introduction to the Translation of American Literature in China:
  • 1910: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe (translated as The Appeal of the Black Slaves (黑奴吁天录)
  • 1929:“The Killers“, Ernest Hemingway
  • 1930-1949: An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser, The Main Street, Sinclair Lewis, The Wrath of Grapes, John Steinback, Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway, etc……
the special issue of american literature in the literary journal modern oct 1934
The special issue of American literature in the literary journal: Modern , Oct., 1934
  • the development of American novels
  • modern American drama
  • modern American poetry
  • modern American literary criticism
  • writers discussed: Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Theodore Dreiser, Eugene O’Neill, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, etc……
  • issues:modernity, national identity and originality
1978-: Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Cheever, Ellison, Bellow, Updike, Morrison, Frost, Williams, Stevens, Ginsberg, Plath, Kingston, Tan, etc…….
2, A General Introduction to the Study of American Literature in China (with a focus on the New Period Time: since 1979)

2.1: case studies (major books published on American literature)

  • A Brief History of American Literature , 1978/1982, 2003 (董衡巽 《美国文学简史》1978,1982,董衡巽《美国文学简史》2003)
  • On Contemporary American Novelists,1987 (钱满素《美国当代小说家论》1987)
  • A Survey of Modern American Fiction, 1990 (王长荣《现代美国小说史》1992)
Contemporary American Drama (汪义群《当代美国戏剧》1992)
  • A History of American Drama (郭继德《美国戏剧史》1993)
  • A History of Twentieth Century American Poetry, 1995 (张子清《20世纪美国诗歌史》1995),
  • A History of Twentieth Century American Literature, 1999 (杨任敬《20世纪美国文学史》)
A Study of Contemporary American Novels,2000 (黄铁池 《当代美国小说研究》2000)
  • A New History of American Literature, 2003-2004, (刘海平,王守仁《新编美国文学史》2003-2004)
  • American Postmodernist Novels, 2003(扬任敬《美国后现代派小说论》2004)
  • A History of Popular American Literature, 2003 (黄禄善《美国通俗文学史》2003)
  • Selected Readings of American Literature, 2000 (陶洁《美国文学选读》2000)
  • Selected Readings of Twentieth Century American Literature, 2006 (陶洁《20世纪美国文学选读》2006)
2 2 merit and demerit
2.2: merit and demerit
  • Case Studies :
  • 1, A Brief History of American Literature , 1978/1982, 2003 (董衡巽《美国文学简史》1978,1982,董衡巽 《美国文学简史》2003)
  • eg: the comment on Allan Poe in 1978 edition of the book: arepresentative of the reactionary southern American aristocratic class
In the 2003 edition: “Poe took pains to write about beautiful images through the exploration of the unconscious, the irrational and the morbid, focusing on the other end of life”
  • comment on Edward Taylor(1645-1729) : “madly advocating the Christian doctrine and the so-called the original sin”
Norman Mailer: “his novels reveal the abnormal psychology and sexuality in a way of naturalism, but at the same time, they also launch a criticism and satire on the social illness and capitalist system in contemporary America, thus one can say they are still of some social significance.”
E.L Doctorow, Ragtime: “the book teems with the sympathy for the oppressed, and concerns with the revolutionaries and revolution”
2, ANew History of American Literature (2003-2004), (刘海平,王守仁《新编美国文学史》2003-2004) (four volumes)
  • The original texts for reference: William Trent, et al, eds. The Cambridge History of American Literature, 1917, Robert Spiller, Literary History of the Untied States, 1948, Emory Elliott, Columbia Literary History of the United States, 1988, Sacvan Bercovitch, Cambridge History of American Literature, 1994.
salient characteristics with chinese perspective
Salient characteristics with Chinese Perspective:
  • the special focus on the Indian literary tradition
  • the interactive or dynamic exchange between American literature and Chinese culture: Emerson, Thoreau ,transcendentalism & classical Chinese philosophy
eg: “大学之道,在明明德,在亲民,在止于至善。”“renew thyself completely each day; do it again and again, and forever again”
  • Thoreau: “ I got up every early and bathed in the pond; that was a religious exercise, and one of the best things which I did. They say that characters were engraven on the bathing tub of king Tching-thang to this effect…”
acceptance and influence: Whitman and Chinese literature
  • 1918: introduced into China by Tian Han, translated into Chinese by Guo Moruo later and influenced his Goddess

1945: the first complete translation of Leaves of Grass

1987: the second

1991: the third

  • The appropriation of Democracy vs the neglect of eroticism
the stress on Chinese American writers
  • literary theories and the incorporation into analysis

eg: the reception of Emily Dickinson

“Dickinson does not care about the national affairs like the Civil War, thus in comparison with Whitman, Dickinson is too self-centered, which also prevents her from writing poems with more significant themes.”

3, A History of Popular American Literature (2003)

19th century: seductive fiction, gothic fiction, religious fiction and women’s fiction…Susan Warner, Maria Cummins, George Lippard ……

20th century: cowboy western fiction, political expose fiction, historic romantic fiction, detective fiction, science fiction, new fantasy fiction…Upton Sinclair, Sidney Sheldon…….

new century: cyberpunk fiction, horror fiction….Steven King, William Gibson …….

3 the trend of reading american literature personal perspective
3.The Trend of Reading (American ) Literature: Personal Perspective
  • 3.1: the use of literary theories in textual analysis:
  • The Repressed Otherness in As I Lay Dying
  • The Power of Repetition in Poe’s Pim
  • The Loss of Freedom: A Foucaultian Genealogical Reading of The Portrait of A Lady
  • Masculinity in Two of Updike’s Novels
  • Theories: Bakhtin, dialogisim, Freud, the death instinct, Foucault, genealogy, femininity & masculinity
Defect: the justification of theories through textual analysis
  • “if meaning is intention, Shakespeare did not intend the Oedipus motive or anything less than Hamlet; if meaning is effect, then it is Hamlet which affects us, not the Oedipus motive.” (Lionel Trilling)
3 2 the foregrounding of main stream american mind against chinese context
3.2: The foregrounding of main stream American mind (against Chinese context):
  • the cultural contradiction & a reading of John Updike
  • Texts:
  • Daniel Bell: The Cultural Contradiction of Capitalism, 1978,
  • John Updike:Rabbit Tetralogy, 1995

(Rabbit Run, 1960, Rabbit Redux, 1971, Rabbit Is Rich, 1981, Rabbit at Rest, 1990)

The former (the economic) is ruled by an economic principle defined in terms of efficiency and functional rationality, the organization of production through the ordering of things, including men as things. The latter (the cultural) is prodigal, promiscuous, dominated by an antirational, anti-intellectual temper in which theself is taken as the touchstone of cultural judgments, and the effect on the self is the measure of the aesthetic worth of experience. The character structure inherited from the nineteenth century, with its emphasis on self-discipline, delayed gratification, and restraint, is still relevant to the demands of the techno-economic structure; but it clashes sharply with the culture, where such bourgeois values have been completely rejected—in part, paradoxically, because of the workings of the capitalist economic system itself.
“(The) ‘new capitalism’ (the phrase was first used in the 1920s) continued to demand a Protestant Ethic in the area of production—that is, in the realm of work—but to stimulate a demand for pleasure and play in the area of consumption ”
  • “It is the breakup of this ethic and (the Puritan) temper, owning as much to changes in social structure as to changes in the culture that has undercut the beliefs and legitimations that sanctioned work and reward in American society”
  • The result: the rise of “fun morality”
the purpose of the study
The purpose of the study:
  • Literature as History
  • A Reflection on Contemporary Chinese Society:

--- Marx Weber: The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism & the discussion of Culture in the 80s in China,

---the Protestant Ethic & the “Puritanism” in Chinese Tradition and Culture (frugality, sobriety, self-discipline and self-restraint, abstinence )

wasp the core constituent of the main stream american culture
WASP: the core constituent of the main stream American culture
  • C Wright Mills, White Collar: The American Middle Classes. 1951.
  • William H. Whyte, The Organization Man. 1956.
  • Daniel Bell, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. 1978.
  • Robert N Bella, et al. Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life. 1985.
  • Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Experience. 1979.
  • Samuel P. Huntington, Who Are We?—America’s Great Debate. 2004.
  • R. H.Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism. 1926.
  • Marx Weber, The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism. Trans. Talcott Parsons,1958.
3 3 the influence and confluence a comparative perspective
3.3, The Influence and Confluence: A Comparative Perspective

1,“The (Mis)Reading of Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (Tao Jie)

---a short history of the translation, study and criticism of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in China

2, “The Influence and Confluence: A Deconstructive Approach to Mo Yan’s Big Breasts, Big Hips”

---writing strategy, deconstruction, ideology

3, “Theory, Reality and the Writing in the Context of Globalization”
  • texts:
  • Frederic Jameson: “Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic in Late Capitalism (1984)”,
  • Terry Eagleton, After Theory (2003),
  • John Updike: In the Beauty of the Lilies (1996),
  • Philip Roth: Human Stain (2000),
  • Yu Hua: Brothers (2004-2005)
  • Ye Xing: A City Of Desire (Hua Tu) (2004)
Questions to ask:
  • 1, how much has globalization coupled with commercialization covered up truth from reality?
  • 2, what can theories and literary writing do to see through the globalized illusion to reveal the real political and cultural scenario around us?